In the summer of 1998, Randy Pye, John Brackney, Brian Vogt, Ed Bosier and Pete Ross gathered at a pancake house to consider the advantages of incorporating the City of Centennial. They established a volunteer organization known as the Arapahoe Citizens for Self -Determination and an incorporation steering committee that filed a petition in the District Court in October 1998 requesting an election to determine whether the City of Centennial should incorporate. The District Court conducted hearings and determined the petition was invalid. On December 12, 1998, the volunteers corrected the petition and, 1998, in six hours, obtained more than 2,500 signatures on a second petition known as the "Centennial Petition."
Colorado Legislature Gives Credence to the Movement
While the Centennial Petition was pending in District Court, House Bill 99-1099 was drafted and introduced in the Colorado Legislature to clarify existing law that established a priority for forming large cities, such as Centennial, over more minor competing municipal annexations. House Bill 99-1099 passed out of the Colorado House of Representatives without a single dissenting vote, and out of the Colorado Senate with only six dissenting votes. This Bill was the first piece of legislation signed into law by Governor Bill Owens on February 1, 1999.
Colorado Courts Approve an Election
On April 8, 1999, the District Court found the Centennial Petition valid and took precedence over competing annexation proposals and ordered an election on whether Centennial should be incorporated. Still, interveners in the District Court case appealed the ruling. The Colorado Court of Appeals transferred the Centennial case directly to the Colorado Supreme Court for determination. The Colorado Supreme Court held oral arguments on May 3, 2000, where the Centennial volunteers once again turned out in mass to support the principles of self-determination and the formation of Centennial. In a unanimous opinion, the Colorado Supreme Court announced on July 21, 2000, that an election should take place to determine if the City of Centennial should be incorporated.
Election Scheduled, Incorporation Approved
The volunteer Election Commission for Centennial was appointed and convened and scheduled an election for September 12, 2000, to determine if the voters within Centennial wished to form a city. On September 12, 2000, 77% of voters approved the formation of the City of Centennial.
City of Centennial Established
The first officers of the City of Centennial government were elected on February 6, 2001. Following their taking of oaths of office at approximately 12:15 p.m. on February 7, 2001, the City of Centennial was finally legally established as a Colorado city.
As one of the City's founding fathers and president of the incorporation committee, Randy Pye was widely considered the front-runner for the City's first elected mayor. After shepherding the movement to create the metro area's fourth-largest city (at the time), Randy Pye captured 81% of the vote, making him Centennial's first mayor.
During the election, 30 candidates ran for eight new seats on Council and Mayor, Treasurer, and City Clerk's roles. The top Council vote-getters were elected to serve four-year terms, and the second-highest Council vote-getters were elected to serve two-year terms.
In 2001, Centennial incorporated as a statutory city governed by state laws. On November 6, 2007, Centennial’s citizens elected 21 residents to serve on the Home Rule Charter Commission to draft a Home Rule Charter in 120 days. On June 10, 2008, the citizens of Centennial voted to approve a Home Rule Charter, making it possible for Centennial to have control over local matters of local concern, including sales tax collection and audit. The approved charter serves as a “constitution” for the City. Read the Home Rule Charter(PDF, 821KB).
Tax Payers Bill of Rights (TABOR) Measures
TABOR is an amendment to the Colorado Constitution requiring governments to refund specific unspent revenue unless voters grant permission to keep it through so-called "de-Brucing" measures.
In 2006, 73% of residents voted in favor of the City's "de-Brucing" measure. Once passed, the City kept an estimated $2.2 million in 2005 through 2007 tax revenue. Approval of this measure was in place through 2013. As the 2013 deadline approached, the City placed another TABOR exemption on the ballot in 2012. TABOR Ballot Measure 2D passed, allowing the City to retain and spend City revenues from all current and existing funding sources.
Contract City Model
The City of Centennial operates under a hybrid model of public and private services. The founding vision for Centennial was one of limited government, with a relatively lean staff and cost saving contracts for a variety of services from public works to law enforcement. In addition to the contracted services, the City partners with a variety of special districts. The City was founded from an unincorporated area with many special districts providing service ranging from water and sanitation to fire protection which remain in place now.
Land Use Bought in-house
In 2008, the City Council decided to end a four-year contract with URS, an engineering, design, and construction company that provided land use services. It was determined it was more cost-effective and efficient to bring land use services in-house, resulting in 10 new City employees hiring.
The City continues to provide land use services through its in-house Community Development Department.
Splitting Public Works and Public Safety into two contracts
Initially, the City had a contract with Arapahoe County for Public Works and Public Safety. However, in 2008, the City and Arapahoe County agreed to a short-term deal through July 1, 2008, with two separate Public Works and Public Safety contracts. Then, in what was thought to be the most significant public-to-private transfer of its kind in the United States, the City transitioned its contract for Public Works to CH2M Hill. The new contract included a fixed annual budget and specific performance standards. During that same time, the City and Arapahoe County signed a new 10-year contract for public safety provided by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.
The City continues to provide Public Works services through a contract with Jacobs Engineering (formerly CH2M Hill) and Public Safety Services through an agreement with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.
Additional Contracted Services
The City contracts for the provision of a variety of other services as well. In addition to Public Works, Jacobs Engineering is the City's contracted provider for the 24/7 Call Center and Code Compliance services. In addition, Animal Services are available to Centennial residents through a contract with the Human Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR). Also, Building Services are provided by SAFEBuilt.
Strategic Planning Projects
In 2007, the City announced its first strategic project: Our Voice, Our Vision, Centennial 2030. During this process, a group of residents volunteered their time and helped develop the City's first strategic plan. The 20-year plan included recommendations on infrastructure, safety and community.
In 2019, the City launched a strategic planning process and City Council officially adopted the City's Mission, Vision & Values. The Goals and Strategies provide direction for the immediate outcomes desired by Council to move toward the vision. Departmental and individual work plans reflect how an individual position or division works to accomplish the strategic plan's goals. View examples of department work plans tied to strategic objectives in the City's budget.
Office space needs have evolved. Over the years, the City transitioned from renting space to purchasing the building and land for Centennial Civic Center and the future Centennial Center Park.
First Office Space
One of the first actions made as a City was acquiring office space for the newly formed City. The City paid Arapahoe Bank & Trust $1 to rent a transitional office space. The rental space included a separate entrance, three offices, a reception area and access to a conference room.
Mayoral front-runner Randy Pye hands Frank Peterson, President of Arapahoe Bank & Trust, $1 for the City of Centennial's new office space (left).
Rented Office Space
In 2006, the City rented a larger space at 12503 E. Euclid Drive (right), conveniently located off Arapahoe Road in the City center.
Purchased Civic Center Building and Surrounding Land
In 2008, the City purchased a 34,000 square-foot building at 13133 E. Arapahoe Rd. for a new Civic Center (left) the adjacent 11-acre open space to develop a park. As a debt-free City, nearly $7 million was accepted in cash for the property.
On April 27, 2012, Centennial Center Park opened to the public and is now a central location to host events.
In 2012, the City purchased a second property at 7272 Eagle Street. The new facility was acquired to house the City's Public Works, Code Compliance and Animal Services contractors, and make available a new rentable community room.
In 2010, residents completed the first census since the City's incorporation in 2001. The official 2010 Census listed the City's population at 100,377, making it the 10th largest city in the State. Also, by reaching the 100,000 mark, the City was given entitlement status. The new position allowed the City to receive Federal grant funding without going through the County directly.
In 2020, residents completed the second census since the City's incorporation. With a self-response rate of 87%, Centennial finished with the highest response rate for a city with over 100,000.
The Fiber Master Plan
In 2013, Centennial voters overwhelmingly supported the City's intention to create a new fiber broadband infrastructure. The passing of ballot question 2G allowed the City to indirectly provide services through competitive and nonexclusive partnerships with private businesses. Then, City Council developed goals, adopted a Fiber Master Plan, and allocated $5.7 million to implement the City's Fiber Master Plan and begin constructing a 50-mile fiber backbone.
In 2018, the City completed a 432-fiber strand backbone connecting key City sites and providing opportunities for community anchor institutions. Learn more about FiberWorks.